man shall not live by bread alone
The scent of stars still falls from heaven,
a gentle mercy, as it did for the Israelites
in the desert—hoarfrost in appearance:
collected, milled, and baked into small
loaves of bread tasting much like honey.
the word, but indeed, is needed daily.
Ancient Greeks called it perspiration
from the stars. Even now it falls in Sicily,
drips from Fraxinus ornus, the flowering
ash trees in Castelbuono—thousands
of acres of rough mountain land by my
father’s birthplace near Palermo.
Sink the sickle-shaped mannarolu knife
into the bark of the tree: a light blue
syrup trickles out, runs down the trunk
and unto a nylon thread strung from
the trees to the cactus leaves. Pure manna
collected inside the picturesque leaves
of prickly pear plants.
When exposed to the hot Italian sun,
the maple congeals into white stalactites
spongy with sugar. The dark-gray bark
on this tree remains smooth. The leaves,
bundled in five to nine serrated leaflets,
turn yellow-purple in the fall. Turn the leafy
pages of the Torah, and eat the good Word.